She walks in and he begins...
"We got this in the mail" holding up the letter. "It's an application for the talented and gifted program. What do you think about that?". She gives us a shrug. "Ok", he continues, "well it's a test for a program. You may get in. You may not. But if you do, it means you go to a different school with different kids and different teachers. These teachers may push you differently or harder. What do you think?". We wait for her to react and she literally gives us nothing to judge from... we're literally exchanging blank stares.
"Ok" he says, "Well how about we give you some time to think about it. Does that sound ok? Go think about it and get back to us".
"Ok I'll think about it". And she leaves the living room.
I was confused by his calm choice to wait and see what she thinks. In my mind, this is a big educational, parent-driven decision so... We're just letting her choose? WTF is that? I didn't say anything but I was kind of disappointed. Ten minutes of awkward silence passes and my husband turns to me, "We need to think about paying someone to help her study. No point in her going in unprepared. Also if this happens, it will impact our family and your morning routine. So that's something to think about...". He trailed off, but I was relieved.
In my relief I felt a deep respect for my husband and his methods. I would have told her that she IS doing this and has no choice. And that would have left me open to pushback or back talk and other negative emotions that may come with a change of school (if she gets in). But allowing our kid to participate in her future means she feel she has power and agency over her life and her choices. That's powerful.
My husband gave her a voice with the intent of pushing her toward the decision that is right for her. Yes she may not be able to see the impact of participating in a gifted program and leaving her friends and a school she loves. But we can talk about it and it isn't posed as an authoritative "we know what's best" proposition. If she thinks about it and says "no" he's created an opportunity for all of us to talk about it.
Our daughter isn't guaranteed to make it into the gifted program for our county. She has to take the test. And whether she passes or not isn't what we're completely focused on. We're focused on giving her the power to make thoughtful choices about her own future.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working to make life more equitable for all people. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.